Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Lotus Eaters by Tom Kratman

The Lotus Eaters: N/AThe Lotus Eaters picks up the story of Patrick Carrera on Terra Nova not long after the events of Carnifex. Carrera has lapsed into a drunken, depressed state after the war in Pashtia, where one of his final acts was to detonate a nuclear weapon in a city of a million people, killing many innocents along with the terrorists he was targeting. No one seems to be able to break him out of his funk, until Jimenez and McNamara convince him that he must return to command to rid their country of its foreign occupiers. Of course, Carrera has a plan, and he begins to gather his forces to achieve his objectives.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, acting Admiral Wallenstein is expecting to be either prosecuted and cashiered for her role in the UN forces' debacle on Terra Nova, or be promoted to full Admiral and made a Class 1 citizen. It turns out to be the latter, and Wallenstein also has a plan, which will restore the space navy forces around Terra Nova to full functionality and allow her to keep the Terra Novans from ever posing a threat to Earth. Despite her determination to do the right thing for the UN, she displays a kinder, gentler side at times, and we are left to hope that maybe she and Carrera need not butt heads, but can cooperate again at some point in time, for the betterment of the human race's future.

Kratman does some neat things with transitions in this book, where he linguistically links the end of one chapter with the beginning of the next.
For example:
"The two guards, joined immediately by two others who had stood alert at the boy's door, followed.

Caridad Crus followed her husband..."

"Martin was, perhaps, overly ambitious.

The program is ambitious..."

These types of transitions occur fairly frequently and soften the effects of the large number of "jumps" between points of view in the novel. I'm sure there's a technical term for them, but Literature 101 was 35 years ago for me, and I've long forgotten it.

Another great thing is the interludes between major sections of the book, which are ostensibly written by Jorge y Marqueli Mendoza, in the Historia y Filosofia Moral. Is this a tribute of sorts to the course labled History and Moral Philosophy that citizens in Heinlein's Starship Troopers are required to take in high school? We never really get to see the contents of that course, except in dialogs between teacher and students, so I think Kratman does a pretty good job of putting together a consistent moral philosophy that fulfills our long-awaited dreams here.

An excerpt,

"...there are things that are real, things that are true. A mother's love for her child, or a husband's for his child and his wife; these are almost always real. That honor, integrity, and courage are the only things one truly owns is true. The penalty a people ultimately pays for submitting to fraud is real. That political power grows from the barrel of a gun is true. The concrete of a bunker and the steel of a cannon; those are real."

"Reason cannot tell the typical voter that he should not grant himself X largesse from the fisc when the penalty will not be paid until Y generation, a century down the road. That necessary restraint comes from an emotional commitment to future generations, and to the culture, values, and traditions of the society of which the voter is a part. Indeed, once the practice of robbing the fisc is well established, reason must lead the voter to 'get mine, before it's all gone.'"

Crap, this is just too timely, in the midst of the debt ceiling debate in the U.S. Congress.

Kratman has included an enormous amount of detail in this one about the recruiting, equipping and mobilizing of an effective fighting force. There's not as much actual combat as in previous installments, but just enough to whet our appetites for the next book in the series.

There are tons more of these.

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